Greater Manchester leaders are asking national Government to change the law to give people travelling on foot a much higher priority at junctions, thereby improving road efficiency for all users.
Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) – which is made up of 10 local council leaders and the Mayor of Greater Manchester – is calling for changes to be made to regulations that govern junction design in response to the Department for Transport’s (DfT) consultation on its Cycling and Waking Investment Strategy safety review.
The simple and cost effective proposals would see side road crossings, which are currently set back from junctions in the UK and out of the sight of some drivers, moved to a position flush to the main road. The zebra crossings would also be installed without expensive lighting features, which have in the past made them too costly to use across Greater Manchester.
The new rules would improve safety and journey times and see Greater Manchester fall into line with other major global cities around the world such as Paris.
The proposed new rules would hugely simplify junctions, making walking safer, quicker and more attractive, encouraging many more trips on foot. The crossings could cost as little as £200 to install, saving local authorities money and freeing up budgets to install more of them.
The GMCA has also asked Government to work with them and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to undertake a feasibility study to research how traffic light junctions could be made more efficient.
A move to change the phasing of major junctions and how they are designed could help the city-region’s mission to reduce congestion. A research model undertaken at a junction in Waltham Forest, London, saw motor traffic queue lengths reduced by more than 40%.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “We want to make Greater Manchester much easier to navigate on foot or by bike and we know that the UK is behind most other cities in the world in terms of its approach to junction priority and design.
“With a few simple changes to legislation, we would not only make our streets much more pleasant and safer for people travelling without cars, we’d also make junctions with traffic lights a lot more efficient - cutting journey times for all road users.
“This would go a long way to meeting the commitments we’ve made in the Congestion Deal and would help us to improve air quality.”
Greater Manchester Cycling and Walking Commissioner, Chris Boardman, added:
“Crossing the street, either on foot or by bike, shouldn’t require bravery.
“If we get these two new rules in place, we’ll be able to create a much better environment for people to get from where they are to where they want to be without a car. Even if people have to drive, evidence has shown us that junctions can be made more efficient for motorists too by reducing queuing times.
“These are tried and tested approaches that have worked successfully in many countries around the world. Now it’s time for Greater Manchester to reap the rewards.”
More information about the Waltham Forest junction study is available here.